“Good enough…Isn’t!” That’s my motto that I have had to use far too often in business, and life. I’ve spent a career trying to innovate and create amazing products, fashion, vehicles, technology, brands, etc., and far too often, I have run into the growing culture of Good Enough. People seem to say it more and more: It’s good enough. What is this about and why are people so willing to settle?
It really hit me several years ago when I was creating a powerful music enhancement app out of the Aphex pro audio products company I owned at the time. Aphex was well-known for making professional sound processing gear. I figured an app, in the age of iTunes and digital music made total sense, to restore so much of the detail that goes missing in digital music.
Aphex had cemented itself as the world leader in audio processing, with top artists, producers and engineers using the tech on pretty much every album produced in the last 40 years, give or take. From Paul McCartney and Wings, in the early days to today’s chart-topping acts, Aphex has been the go-to to ensure the best possible sound quality for recording studios and concert venues.
About $1 million was spent developing this app – not an equalizer by any means – it was a true professional signal processing technology that every artist, producer, and consumer who heard it agreed it was amazing.
My feeling about quality had been transferred to the music world and I wanted to make a statement: why have musicians and producers work so hard to tweak their recording if people were going to listen to terrible, low quality digital files that made many of the details invisible?
I shocked musicians, like Pat Metheny, when I let him play with the app prior to release. We sat there in his studio and he listened to his own music from the iTunes store, then he listened with the app processing the music in real-time. He was floored. He realized then, in a bold demonstration, just how much of his hard work went out the window as people listened to their digital devices.
The app launched and had a huge number of downloads – maybe 300,000 in just a month or two. You’d think that would pave the way to great success. Nope! What we failed to realize was just how apathetic people have become about quality. And sadly, even though we believed music to be the one universal love and something people were passionate about, I was amazed at the lack of “commitment” people had to their music…and to the artists. I got hit with it: “I like the app but my music sounds good enough.”
Good enough…ugh!!! Who are these people? Imagine The Beatles without George or Ringo? Sound odd? Yes, but the gym I go to plays digital music over a basic system and when I hear a Beatles song, two of the Fab Four are nowhere to be heard.
The point here is that, no matter the topic, the product, the service, we need to strive for real quality and performance. Not some weak imitation. You can’t strive for mediocrity. Imagine the aircraft mechanic who says, “It’s good enough.” Or the restaurant chef. Or the doctor. Or your accountant. Obviously, not everything has to be the best or the highest performance, but there needs to be better curating and more discerning criticism in your personal and professional life. This good enough culture needs to end, or where will it stop? Your car’s brakes? Maybe your parenting? Your own company’s products or services?
My mantra for David Wiener Ventures over 35 years has been: Performance & Style. It doesn’t matter what we work on; every product, vehicle, fashion item, brand, etc., has to perform. And it must look good. No “good enough” allowed.
When DWV was selected by Ferrari to create their most exclusive home product, the DWV Ferrari Art.Engine home audio system, one of the things that struck them was our total commitment to performance, style…and the Ferrari culture. What struck me was the idea that Ferrari can work with anyone they want, and they wanted us! I never heard good enough during my many visits to Maranello.
Clearly, not all companies and individuals operate at Ferrari’s level, but that doesn’t mean you can just give-in and accept sub-par performance. Music isn’t a Ferrari-level item. Neither is doctoring, food, car repair, etc., etc. You may not choose the most expensive of a category, but that doesn’t mean that what you choose should be mediocre, or worse…good enough.
When you do get to do things at a total-quality level, it feels great – whether you are the creator or the recipient. Push the limits on both ends and don’t settle for “good enough.”
Remember: Good Enough…Isn’t!